“Change is the only constant in life” is one of Heraclitus’ most accurate sayings; withstanding the test of time, it is now even more appropriate in today’s society than it has ever been before. With ever growing demands on our time, and a rapidly growing and developing technology industry that is constantly changing and shaping the workforce, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the changes that more often than not catch us unaware – in our personal and working environment.
Change is one of those inevitable forces in life – whether we choose to embrace or resist it – we have to expect it. Why is change such a challenge to deal with, and how you can manage it more effectively?
Why Is Change So Difficult To Cope With?
If you’ve ever felt utterly helpless to do anything about your change-related anxiety and stress, don’t worry, it’s perfectly natural. The first step to dealing with the problem, as with everything else, is understanding the issue, inside out – in this case, rather literally.
The problem with change is that we have a very natural resistance to it and the natural impulse that we have towards homoeostasis is not to be underestimated! It is a self-regulating system that is an essential life-sustaining force. From body temperature to heart rate and hormonal activity, the system makes sure that your body is not subjected to conditions that pose health risks, any longer than you are able to sustain them.
Homoeostasis is a system designed to keep stable conditions and quickly respond to any changes by resisting them and restoring the previous conditions. If this seems like biological mumbo-jumbo to you, you’d be surprised at how much this affects our everyday lives, including our behavioural, emotional and psychological patterns.
In more behavioural terms, homoeostasis manifests itself in our desire for routine and our wariness of change. On a more personal level, this may be seen in your unwillingness to leave an unhealthy relationship, and at work this may be reflected in your despair over a new set of procedures (which inevitably affects your work productivity and could stunt your career development).
It is also important to understand that you may experience homoeostatic fear regardless of the nature of the change; the system does not distinguish between good or bad changes, change is change, and so it is up to you to challenge the system and form your own perceptions of the changes.
Here are some ways that you can start to embrace change quicker and stop resisting the inevitable.
- Perception is everything:
According to Wayne Dyer, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – he was definitely on to something there. No two people are likely to react in the exact same way when presented with the same situation, or in this case, change. Your attitude towards the changes you’re facing heavily impacts how well you deal with and adjust to them.
Challenge yourself to identify as many reasons as you can how the change will benefit you. This will help you achieve some clarity over the bigger picture, and to gain some control over the situation.
The more reasons you can find, the quicker the resistance will fade. ALSO, get clear on the cost of not changing, what happens if you don’t change and what does that mean for you?
Remind yourself of the benefits of change BUT also, the consequences of not changing!
2. Deal with the changes head on:
Instead of avoiding the change, take a proactive stance, take charge of the situation, and either search for a solution or an effective way of working around and/or within the change. Avoiding the problem doesn’t make it go way, it only makes it grow over time.
If the change feels too scary to confront, what will make this change easier? Maybe you need more clarity on what the change means (common in a work environment) or maybe you need more support and you will feel better – you won’t know until you ask yourself, simple but not common practice.
3. Stay flexible:
As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs into one basket – don’t make elaborate, long term plans that rely on everything staying exactly as it is. Don’t focus on what you don’t know or can’t do, but rather what you do know and what can you do with it and how can it help you with the change.
Be flexible along the change, change is not one stage. Have an open mind, ask questions and seek out any opportunities that will make the change process more effective. Chances are, things won’t always go according to plan, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, that is the reality.
4. Do not alienate yourself from the situation:
One of the most tempting things to do during a change is to emotionally and physically detach ourselves from the situation. Think about how the change makes you feel and how you want to feel about it, only then can you go about changing your attitude towards it. It is not the event which causes the emotions, but the meaning we give it.
If you are feeling bad about the change, ask yourself: what beliefs or thoughts are creating these feelings? And challenge those beliefs and thoughts for ones that will serve you better.
5. Accept the resistance:
Very simple, because it will always be there to some degree. You don’t have a choice in feeling the resistance or not, but you have a choice over how you manage it!
Get With The Times!
Whether we like it or not, in order to succeed in today’s society we need to comfortably go with the flow of change and effectively adapt and adjust to various new situations (scary as that may be).
Industries all over the world are looking for flexible, motivated employees who cope positively with change, and not only take it in their stride, but actually thrive on it – this is the recipe for success.
Apart from the obvious career benefits, it isn’t difficult to see how change management strategies can help a person overcome personal issues and allow them to pursue their dreams confidently and take up opportunities effectively – this could be you!
Grab homoeostasis by the horns and take control of your own mind, body and life!